What are Ethics? Ethics can be defined broadly as a set of moral principles or values. Each of us has such a set of values. We may or may not have considered them explicitly.
Why People Act Unethically The person’s ethical standards are different from those of society as a whole. The person chooses to act selfishly. In many instances, both reasons exist.
A Person’s Ethical StandardsDiffer from General Society Embezzlers Con artists Shoplifters Most people who commit such acts feel no remorse when they are apprehended because their ethical standards differ from those of society as a whole.
A Person Chooses toAct Selfishly – Example Person Afinds a briefcase containing important papers and $1,000. He tosses the briefcase and keeps the money. He brags to his friends about his good fortune. This action probably differs from most of society.
RationalizingUnethical Behavior Everybody does it. If it’s legal, it’s ethical. Likelihood of discovery and consequences
Ethical Dilemmas An ethical dilemma is a situation a person faces in which a decision must be made about appropriate behavior.
Resolving Ethical Dilemmas 1. Obtain the relevant facts. 2. Identify the ethical issues from the facts. 3. Determine who is affected.
Resolving Ethical Dilemmas 4. Identify the alternatives available to the person who must resolve the dilemma. 5. Identify the likely consequence of each alternative. 6. Decide the appropriate action.
Ethical Dilemma A staff person has been informed that he will work hours without recording them as hours worked. Firm policy prohibits this practice. Another staff person has stated that this is common practice in the firm.
Resolving the Ethical Dilemma Is it ethical for the staff person to work hours and not record them as hours worked in this situation? Who is affected? How are they affected? What alternatives does the staff person have?
Other Ethical Dilemmas A supervisor asks you to initial certain audit procedures as performed when they were not. You conclude that you cannot be promoted to manager unless you persuade assistants to work hours that they do not record. Management informs you, now a partner, that either the company gets an unqualified opinion for a $40,000 audit fee or the company will change auditors. Management informs you that the audit fee will be increased $25,000 if you can find a plausible way to increase earnings by $1 million.
Special Need for Ethical Conduct in Professions Our society has attached a special meaning to the term professional. A professional is expected to conduct himself or herself at a higher level than most other members of society.
Ethical Principles 1. Responsibilities Professionals should exercise sensitive and moral judgments in all their activities. 2. Public Interest Members should accept the obligation to act in a way that will serve and honor the public.
Ethical Principles 3. Integrity Members should perform all responsibilities with integrity to maintain public confidence. 4. Objectivity and Independence Members should be objective, independent, and free of conflicts of interest.
Ethical Principles 5. Due Care Members should observe the profession’s standards and strive to improve competence. 6. Scope and Nature of Services A member in public practice should observe the Code of Professional Conduct.